This story is so crazy. Earlier this week graphic images landed on the internet showing an August 15 incident where 35-year-old Lionel Womack was running shirtless across a field in the dark when he was struck and run over by Kiowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez’s pickup truck.
According to CBS reports, Womack, a former police detective, has filed a federal civil rights case against the deputy in U.S. District Court in Kansas via his attorney Michael Kuckelman. The lawsuit claims that Rodriguez used excessive force and was “callously indifferent” to Womack’s civil rights.
[WARNING – GRAPHIC FOOTAGE!]
The lawsuit claims the deputy violated Womack’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect against unreasonable searches and deprivation of life and liberty. It says Rodriguez “intentionally swerved” the truck in order to strike Womack, knowing it would likely cause severe harm or death.
“Such use of force was not objectively reasonable because neither [Rodriguez] nor anyone else could claim any objective fear of imminent bodily harm by Mr. Womack when he was run over,” the lawsuit says.
In a statement, Woman said he wasn’t speeding or under the influence of substances when he was initially pulled over that night and that his driver’s license, insurance and registration were in good standing.
“When the first officer turned his lights on, I pulled over and complied … exactly as you’re supposed to. But when three additional vehicles pulled up quickly and started to surround my car, I freaked out. That’s when I took off. It was a ‘fight or flight’ moment and I was going to live,” he said. “I felt like I was in danger. This was out in the country, late at night, and it was dark. So I ran for my life. That’s what you see in the dashcam video. I’m running in an open field, and I’m scared.”
Womack says he was on his way back home from a business trip to California the night of the incident. He had left the police department earlier that month to pursue his own security business. According to the lawsuit, a Kansas Highway Patrol officer in western Kansas initiated a chase over “an alleged traffic violation,” and sheriff’s deputies from Pratt County and Kiowa County joined in on the chase — which ended on the dirt road with Womack taking off by foot across a farm field before being struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle. The dashcam footage from the Pratt County sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle shows Rodriguez in pursuit of Womack, who was unarmed, before swerving his truck and hitting him, knocking him to the ground and running over him. Womack is shown rolling out from under the truck, waving his limbs and someone shouts, “Lie down, lie down.”
In his lawsuit Womack alleges he sustained serious injuries to his back, pelvis and thigh as well as to his right knee, ankle and foot.
“The dashcam video is disturbing,” Kuckelman said. “It is impossible to watch a video of a deputy driving his truck over Mr. Womack without feeling sick. There was nowhere for Mr. Womack to go. It was an open field, and he was trapped, yet the deputy drove his truck over him anyway.”
Kuckelman says he’s urged the Kiowa County sheriff in person and in letters to fire Rodriguez, but he said the sheriff has refused and Rodriguez remains on patrol. Kuckelman also wants Rodriguez charged criminally and has accused the sheriff of engaging in a coverup of the deputy’s conduct.
Womack hails from a law enforcement family. His stepfather is a retired police sergeant who worked in Kansas City, Kansas and his wife and his mother are currently police officers. He also has two aunts who are police dispatchers.
“Mr. Womack and his family support good and honorable law enforcement officers but their support of law enforcement does not include the few dishonorable members of law enforcement such as Deputy Rodriguez,” Kuckelman wrote to Tedder in a letter Wednesday. “Your cover up and on-going protection of Deputy Rodriguez is wrong and in the long run, harms all the honorable members of law enforcement.”
Womack is still currently jailed on felony charges of attempting to elude a law enforcement officer by engaging in reckless driving and interference with a law enforcement officer. He is also charged with several misdemeanor traffic citations, including failure to drive in the right lane on a four-lane highway, improper signal and driving without headlights according to court records.
Womack’s wife, Zee Womack says her husband is remains behind bars due to an unrelated extradition request from Oklahoma and online court records show Lionel Womack was charged in Texas County, Oklahoma, with endangering others while eluding or attempting to elude police on August 12, three days before the incident in Kansas. The records show Womack was arrested by a police officer in the town of Tyrone, Oklahoma, near the Kansas state line.
It’s crazy that this guy Rodriguez is still on patrol. What do you think will be the result of Womack’s case? How much do you think that amount of pain and suffering is worth?